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Riddle, Ford win Sustie Awards

A pair of Minnesotans – Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford – were recently recognized as sustainable agriculture heroes.

They were among recipients of Sustie Awards from the Ecological Farming Association (EFA), a California non-profit educational organization committed to sustainable farming.

As organic inspectors for 20 years, Riddle and Ford founded the International Organic Inspectors Association in 1991 and co-authored the International Organic Inspection Manual, Organic System Plan, and inspection report templates.

In the United States, Riddle saw a need to reduce regulatory barriers on organic farmers, according to EFA, and he advocated for a national organic certification cost share which was established in the 2002 Farm Bill. For the past seven years he has worked for the University of Minnesota as its organic outreach coordinator.

Ford served on the Organic Growers and Buyers Association (OGBA) board in the late-1980s. She served two terms on the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) board; co-authored OTA’s Good Organic Retailing Practices (GORP) training manuals; was a site monitor for pipelines crossing organic farms in Minnesota; and established a training program for this unique occupation. She currently does work for the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS).

According to Agri-News, the couple also helped organize the Winona Farmers Market in the 1980s when they were raising vegetables. The publications also said they have gotten back into organic production, starting Blue Fruit Farm on four acres. They have more than 1,600 blueberry bushes, hundreds of elderberries, 300 aronia berry bushes, black chokeberry, black currants, honeyberries, 80 blue plum trees and various other perennial blue fruits.… Read the rest

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CSA advice from Minnesota Grown

Looking Over BoxesAre you thinking about buying a CSA membership to keep a steady flow of healthy, locally-grown food coming to your home? Minnesota Grown’s recent newsletter offered some information and advice to guide your decision:

Community Supported Agriculture (often abbreviated as CSA) farms are an ever popular way for consumers to get fresh, healthy and local food directly from the farm. A CSA farm sells subscriptions or memberships to their farm before planting begins, generally in late winter or very early spring. These members pay up front and then receive a share of that farms produce, generally once a week for 14-18 weeks. These shares are either picked up on the farm or delivered to an arranged drop site.

Joining a CSA is a great way to connect with a local community and your local farmer. Each farm varies in what it offers, how much it costs, the delivery/pick-up locations and the length of its season. If you are thinking about joining a farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Compare farms and what they offer. Not every CSA farm will be a good fit for your family. Of course, begin by looking at their deliver/pick up locations – is there one that is close and convenient for you? If swinging by the farm once a week sounds like a great activity for your family, then find a farm that offers on-site pick up (lots do!). See what types of produce they grow and if they offer any additional products.

2) Stay open-minded. Most farms will include a few vegetables that you may not be familiar with – this is OK! Don’t be afraid to try the new recipe your farmer or fellow member shared with you. Also, try the vegetable a few different ways before you decide if you like it or not. You tell your kids to do this anyway, so set the example.  

3) Plan prep time. It’s important to plan some time on your pick-up day or the day after to prep your share. You may need to wash, separate, cut or freeze your produce right away. Taking some time right away will make preparing your foods much easier and faster throughout the week. Exploring the contents of your box can be a fun family activity.

4) Get connected. Give feedback to your farmer about what you like and don’t like. Talk to other members about their experiences. If the farm allows, get out for a visit at least once. Read the newsletter to find out what’s happening and what’s changing at the farm. Truly make it “your farm.”… Read the rest

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Best of Edible: Living off the grid

grid(Edible Twin Cities occasionally places its best magazine stories online. Here’s a story by Carol J. Butler — pictured at right — from the January/February 2013 issue of Edible that focuses on how living “unplugged” changes the way Butler cooks.)

By Carol J. Butler

Ten years ago, our family left the comforts of Minneapolis because it was a dream of my husband’s to build furniture from his own trees. So we came—young, idealistic, wearing our city shoes, and carrying our small appliances—to an off-grid homestead in the woods of northern Wisconsin. Our house sits out where the power lines end, the only electrical bright spot for two miles in any direction. We split our firewood, pump water from a well and make our own electricity.

When you are no longer connected to the public utility lines, you set up your kitchen a whole different way. At first I was eager to be shod of all my modern conveniences. I imagined it would be good for me to whip up cookie dough with a fork and knead bread by hand. We have been researching wind and solar but for now, our electricity is made by a diesel generator that charges and stores power to batteries. This means that certain appliances such as toasters or blenders should only be run when the generator is on, or you risk burned-out capacitors and a total electrical shut-down. Other appliances, such as microwaves, should not be run at all.

We went through a series of experiments involving coffee makers that don’t use electricity. In our early morning stupors with baby on hip, we fumbled and shattered at least three of those pretty glass press pots, and the thermal kind never stayed hot enough for me. We settled on a stainless steel espresso maker that brews what my friends call “big girl” coffee. We secured an old 1940s gas range that doesn’t contain a single hidden micro-chip. All those little electrical clocks on appliances really add up when running off batteries and I always preferred cooking with a real flame anyway. I have become attached to my beat-up old stove, but I have to say, I didn’t always feel this way.

Truth is, the biggest learning curve thrown my way as we set about growing our family and conserving our resources was the lack of available take-out.

It didn’t matter how tired I was at the end of the day, ordering out wasn’t an option. There’s simply nothing down my road but deer and porcupine, and who wants to drive 60 miles round trip for a cold meal at home? I had to figure out some way of coming up with dinner and I had to do it night after night. The temptation to order out was removed and because of that, something wonderful happened over the course of 10 years. I got pretty good at cooking.

My definition of good, however, is a bit different from the one I had when living in the city. My focus out here is efficiency. I consider a meal a success if there aren’t a lot of dishes to wash and if I somehow manage to start another meal at the same time. For example, when baking lasagna, I throw in a couple of potatoes to grate for hash browns the next morning; when making chili, I reserve two cups for a later batch of enchiladas.

Really all this requires is something called planning. I’m not a naturally organized person, but my dinky refrigerator runs on propane and my freezer is the size of a shoebox. So I spend about 15 minutes a week writing down what we will have for dinner, and when, so I can rotate my food properly. I find myself relying on tricks and customs employed by our grandmothers. I can’t run to the store when I run out of something, so I learned how to make the things my kids consider essential, such as pancake syrup and ketchup. Basically my kitchen is simple and no fuss. The natural result of cooking this way is a reliance on the goodness of whole foods for nearly every meal.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t give myself little breaks. As a working mom, I’ve realized that I don’t have to do everything the long way. There are some modern conveniences available to me that our grandmothers didn’t have, and on busy school-nights, I use them. Frozen peas, baked fries and vegetables already cut-up are my version of “take-out” foods. I don’t always cook a big meal, but I am always planning ahead. That might sound like a lot of work, but it has become second nature to me now, and a way of life. In my off-grid kitchen, dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be good.… Read the rest

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Earn income and represent Edible TC

Are you knowledgeable – even passionate – about the local-food community in the Twin Cities? Experienced and skilled in advertising sales? Edible Twin Cities magazine is currently looking for a part-time, commission-only independent contractor to serve as a multi-media sales specialist.

Meet clients’ advertising needs, provide outstanding customer service, and generate revenue for Edible Twin Cities magazine, which celebrates local foods in the Twin Cities metro area and western Wisconsin. Also, represent and sell Southwest Newspapers’ other products, including its women’s magazine and other special projects or events.

Required are a minimum of two years of sales experience (advertising or new media sales preferred) and the ability to build relationships with clients face-to-face and by telephone. Knowledge of the local food community is essential. Must be able to sell multiple products and develop new business through cold calling and prospecting. Must also be self-motivated, able to meet deadlines, have a positive attitude and be a team player. Earn 20 percent on all sales plus additional bonus opportunities. Requirements include a valid driver license and vehicle.

Send and resume and three references to: Publisher Mark Weber, Edible Twin Cities magazine, PO Box 8, Shakopee, MN 55379. Or e-mail publisher@edibletwincities.com.… Read the rest

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Farm to Cafeteria workshops planned

farmToCafeFarmers, growers, food-service professionals and others are invited to upcoming workshops – including two in the Twin Cities area – designed to get more local food into the cafeterias of schools and other institutions.

The Farm to Cafeteria Workshops are being held by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, with help from the U of M Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, the Institute for a Sustainable Future, and Renewing the Countryside. Funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The workshops are designed to cultivate partnerships between food growers and institutional food buyers, including those who operate school lunch programs. Topics include purchasing local food on a budget, on-farm safety and marketing local food, and nutritional education in the classroom.

This year’s gatherings build on an earlier round of Farm to Cafeteria workshops. In 2010, more than 600 Minnesotans attended eight regional workshops that were aimed to inspire, inform and build support for local food to local institutions.

“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it’s produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices.”

An east-metro workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, 1669 Arcade St., St. Paul. A west-metro workshop will be held 2 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 8600 Freemont Ave. S., Bloomington. Other workshops are Feb. 4 in Mahnomen, Feb. 12 in Lamberton, March 7 in Rochester, March 8-9 in Duluth, and April 3 in Staples.

For details, go to http://www.extension.umn.edu/farm-to-school/farm-to-cafeteria-workshops/Read the rest

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Sustainable farming summit set

Learn the latest research in sustainable farming – both rural and urban – and network with leaders in the movement at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Sustainable Agriculture Summit: Growing the Farmer to Farmer Network.

Participants will attend sessions on such topics as seed-saving, specialty crops business management, animal welfare certification, grazing practices, raw milk best practices, aligning rural and urban ag, sizing and scaling the farm business for success, cold-climate grape growing, meat processing, new garlic diseases, interrupting carcinogenesis with food plants, social media marketing success stories and more.

Time: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16
Cost: $90 per day through Jan. 15; $95 per day after Jan. 15
Location: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska
Info: www.arboretum.umn.edu/0213SustainAgSummit.aspx or (952) 443-1422… Read the rest

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Winter markets planned at Bachman’s

Vendors from the Kingfield and Fulton farmers markets in Minneapolis will be participating in winter events from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 26 and Feb. 23, at Bachman’s, 6010 Lyndale Ave. S.

Fresh, locally grown and locally produced foods, crafts, clothing and gift items will be available at the indoor events, which are being called “Fresh from the Freeze: Winter Farmers Market.”

Entertainment is also planned.

More information is available at www.kingfieldfarmersmarket.org.… Read the rest

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Three food trends to watch for in 2013

foodTrendsIn Edible Twin Cities’ first-ever forecast of key local-food trends for the coming year in Minneapolis and St. Paul, we’ve identified three issues to watch for in 2013. These include:

— A continuing push for healthier school lunches in K-12 cafeterias
— A growing desire to cook more meals and rely less on processed food; and
— An emerging passion among urbanites to get closer to the land and the food they eat, through expanding backyard and community gardens and even raising chickens in the city.

These trends are not based on a scientific study. We identified these trends through our on-going coverage of local food and sustainability topics over the past year, plus conversations we had about food trends with rural small farmers, urban growers, restaurateurs, caterers, chefs and home cooks.

1. Healthier lunches, healthier kids

The movement toward healthier school lunches will get stronger in 2013. As
Lenny Russo, owner and chef of Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market in St. Paul, recently commented to us, “I think the push for more nutritious school lunches will continue to outpace other concerns.”

Jane Peterson, a turkey farmer near Cannon Falls, who, with her family, also runs Ferndale Market, agreed. “We think K-12 schools will continue to emerge as leaders in local food sourcing…both (Minneapolis and St. Paul school) districts are continuing to look for innovative ways to increase their local purchasing.”

This trend also connects with Michelle Obama’s national healthy school lunch initiatives.

2. Cooking: Back to basics

More people than ever are “learning and wanting to cook again, and buying and eating less processed foods,” said Beth Fisher, chef at Wise Acre Eatery in Minneapolis, who also has taught cooking classes in the Twin Cities for the past 20 years.

3. Local seeds, city chickens

Young gardeners in the urban core are transforming their lawns and yards into giant vegetable gardens. Others are keeping bees and raising chickens in the city. Still others operate urban farms on vacant lots. Community gardens are also expanding. Fisher predicts these activities will increase as residents here and elsewhere see that “directly connecting to their land has a payoff outside of what they harvest. That direct connection closes the gap between blind consumerism and responsible consumption.”

As Greg Reynolds, an organic farmer who runs Riverbend Farm near Delano says, more succinctly, the trend is toward “local seeds.”

This city farming trend also fits with ongoing efforts by both Minneapolis and St. Paul to rewrite their zoning ordinances to accommodate more urban farms and gardens.

At the same time, though, you may see an end to the surge of farmers’ markets in the area, because there aren’t enough small farmers to supply them.… Read the rest

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Local eating carries on at winter markets

localEatingBy Kristin Holtz

The fresh tomatoes and succulent ears of corn may only be a distant memory in this landscape of white, but several Twin Cities markets continue going strong – no matter the winter weather.

Four markets in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul continue to offer customers fresh, locally produced options despite the cool temperatures.

The Mill City Farmers Market runs the second Saturday of the month inside the Mill City Museum from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors hawk their fresh-ground flour, pickles, breads, granola, meats, cheese, goat yogurt, artisan chocolates and more in the warmth of the downtown museum. The market is open Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 13.

Mill City Farmers Market founder Brenda Langton says customers will find unique products this winter, as vendors look for creative ways to preserve the harvest.

“We really are working and encouraging our farmers [to do more] because it’s so much better for them to be more sustainable and sell year round,” Langton says.

The Mill City Farmers Market will also be setting up shop at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska on March 16.

Also open is the Minneapolis Farmers Market on selected Saturdays throughout the winter months. The market, located at 312 East Lyndale Ave. N., will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 22 and 29; Jan. 12 and 26; Feb. 9 and 23; March 9, 23, 30; and April 6, 13, 20 and 27.

What will you find at Minneapolis Farmers Market’s winter markets?

“The hardiest farmers in town,” says Susan Berkson of the Minneapolis Farmers Market. “Our farmers show up and stand outside with their wares. We have farmers in parkas with ruddy cheeks who can see their breath and are happy to see their customers.”

The Minneapolis winter market offers a variety of unique meats and cheeses from Tollefson Family Pork, Bar Five Meat and Poultry, Wild Run Salmon, Blue Gentian Farm and Sleeping Cat Organic. Customers can drive right up to growers’ sheds and can find the products out on the table, not tucked away in refrigerated cases, Berkson said.

There’s also the occasional surprise vendor, like on a recent Saturday when New French Bakery showed up unannounced.

Locals can swing by the Kingfield and Fulton neighborhood markets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 26 and Feb. 23, at Bachman’s, 6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis.
The Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market will be setting up shop at the Eastside Food Co-op, 2551 Central Ave. N.E., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 13.

Across the river in St. Paul, the much-loved St. Paul Farmers Market never slows down. The outdoor Lowertown market is open every Saturday (with the exception of March 16) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You’ll find a variety of meat, bakery items, honey and cheese.

Inside, find a wider selection of maple syrup, salsa, strudels, hot sauces, barbeque sauces, chocolates, pickles, mushrooms and more.

While winter farmers markets might not draw the same numbers as in high summer, they have a flavor all their own and it’s one of good cheer, Berkson says. “We’re beating the season at its own game.”

(Photo courtesy of Mill City Farmers Market)Read the rest

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Photos from Garlic Festival 2012

Here are some photos from Minnesota Garlic Festival held Saturday, Aug. 11, in Hutchinson, Minn. by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, Crow River chapter. Visitors were able to buy the newest gourmet garlic crop, visit with a wide array of vendors, be entertained and educated, and eat local food.

[meteor_slideshow slideshow="Garlic Festival 2012"]
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